By John Okeke
The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has urged ECOWAS leaders to work together so as to compete favourably in acquiring COVID-19 Vaccines.
Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director General of WAHO made the call when he addressed the ECOWAS Parliament at the opening of its Virtual Second Extra-Ordinary session.
Prof. Okolo disclosed that the sub-region was also looking at locally manufacturing its test kits rather that continuously procuring from abroad, adding that WAHO will provide support to institutions conducting such researches.
“We think that we should pull financial resources in order to compete favourably in acquiring Covid-19 Vaccines.
“We are supporting some of the industries in terms of COVID-19, we thing that parliament should also help us support them through Private-Public Partnership (PPP).
“At the moment, the one industry that is definitely looking at diagnostic test is the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal and we have signed an MoU with them and we have put some seed funding aside which we will invest in them.
“We think that this institute, if the tests are available from the end of this month or early next month, West Africa can buy it at very cheap cost.
“We are looking at about two dollars or three dollars, whereas you find that the similar test kit in the open market is about 9 dollars or 10 dollars.
“We are really trying as much as possible to go strategically to ensure that we support our West African region but also we broker easy purchase at competitive price for all our 15 countries,” he said.
He maintained that there was need for internal funding by member states rather than continuous reliance on foreign partners to achieve milestones in the health sector.
He said that in order for West Africa to handle uts health needs, nations must strife implement the Abuja declaration on allocating 15 per cent of National Budgets to the health sector.
“We cannot do all these with only foreign partners funding us, therefore domestic health financing is really key.
“We need to ensure that budgets meet the 15 per cent Abuja declaration.
“We understand that if you have countries like Mali spending about 25 per cent of their budgets on Security how much more have they got to share in order to get that 15 per cent.
“That is why in WAHO we have also been advocating with the external world, the forgiveness of public debt.
“But we still have to come back to the fact that we ourselves have to look at how we can improve domestic financing and ensure that every dollar is utilised appropriately.,” he said.